Jitu Rai wins 10m air pistol gold, Mehuli Ghosh gets 10m air rifle silver

ESPN staff5 Minute Read
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Jitu Rai and Om Prakash Mitharval won gold and bronze in the men's 10m air pistol event after shooting 235.1 and 214.3 points respectively in the final on Monday at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. Mehuli Ghosh and Apurvi Chandela then continued with India's dominant performance in shooting, winning a silver and bronze respectively in the women's 10m air rifle event. Mehuli shot a commendable 247.2 -- a a Games record, while Apurvi settled for 225.3 points.

Beginning with the first stage of competition in the final, Rai sat on top of the rankings, shooting 150.1 points. Mitharwal, on the other hand, was third, finishing with 147.1 points. By the end of the first elimination, however, while Rai maintained his ranking, Mitharwal moved to the silver medal position, with five others remaining in the competition.

As four shooters remained, Rai and Mitharval both continued to occupy the first and second positions, with 177.7 and 176.2 points respectively, still comfortably leading with Australia's Kerry Bell, who was on the third position, by almost two points.

Remaining in the top-three in the competition by the end of the final eliminator, both Indians assured themselves of a medal. As Bell came back in the penultimate elimination with a 10.2 and 9.8, Mitharval fell just short -- despite shooting a stunning 10.5 in his second shot -- to finish with a bronze.

Rai and Bell then had a shoot-off for the coveted gold when Bell fumbled, shooting a 9.8 after a 10.2, while the Indian -- already leading by a point -- scored a 10.0 and 9.7 to take the top position.

Rai had previously won Gold in the 50m air pistol at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but missed out on a spot in the 10m air pistol competition. This is his first appearance in the 10m air pistol event at the Commonwealth Games. He also made the final of the same event at the Rio Olympics where he finished eighth.

23-year-old Mitharval, participating in his first Commonwealth Games, finished first in the qualification round after shooting 584 points to equal the Commonwealth Games record, which was previously held solely by India's Samaresh Jung. He was a whopping 12 points ahead of the second placed Roger Daniel from Trinidad and Tobago, who finished with 572 points. His previous best was a fourth-place finish in the ISSF World Cup held in Guadalajara, Mexico earlier this year.

Mehuli and Apurvi win silver and bronze

L-R: Mehuli Ghosh, Singapore's Martina Lindsay Veloso and Apurvi ChandelaBradley Kanaris/Getty Images

At the start of Stage 1 in the women's 10m air rifle event, Mehuli took a lead at 51.8, 0.2 points ahead of Singapore's Martina Lindsay Veloso, who stood second. By the end of it, however, the latter took over at 103.7, while Mehuli finished with 102.8. Apurvi stood at fifth at 102.1 as the eliminators began.

Going into the eliminators, Apurvi hit a stunning 10.4 and 10.7 with 123.2 points to move to the second position, while Mehuli slipped to fourth with 122.8. With five competitors remaining, Apurvi slowly started closing the gap between her and leader Veloso, continuing to stand in the second position, while Mehuli focused on overtaking Scotland's Seonaid McIntosh, who led her by 0.3 points. The latter soon fumbled, being eliminated next with a 9.8 and 9.2, while Mehuli toppled Apurvi with a stunning 10.7 and 10.7 to go second by a 0.2 margin.

Both Indians then assured themselves of a medal as Bangladesh's Ummey Sultana got eliminated next, as Apurvi, after shooting a 10.7 and 10.4, stood on top of the standings. Apurvi then fumbled, shooting a 9.9 and 9.4 to finish third. Mehuli's 10.3 and 10.7 took her to the second position, 0.8 points below Veloso. In a dramatic turn of events thereafter, Mehuli shot a 10.3 and a perfect 10.9 to then tie at 247.2 with Veloso at the end of the final two shots. In the shoot-off, however, Veloso shot a 10.3 against Mehuli's 9.9 to take the gold.

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17-year-old Mehuli had previously won bronze in the 10m air rifle event at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico held earlier this year. She came into the spotlight after an impressive eight-medal haul in the 5,000-odd competition field of the Nationals. This, just after she'd won a quota place for the Youth Olympic Games with a gold at the Asian Championships in Wako City, Japan. At the start of this year, Mehuli was handed a fresh goal: Commonwealth Games. "I was not really surprised to find my name in the squad since I had a chance," she had told ESPN.

Talking about her talent, Mehuli's coach Joydeep Karmakar -- who himself had finished fourth in the 50m rifle prone event at the 2012 London Olympics -- told ESPN earlier this year, "I can say with absolute certainty that I haven't in my close to three decades in the sport run into a talent like her."

"What sets her apart is that she's extremely sharp in perception and quick in interpretation. Also, she knows how to fight back from a really bad position," he had said.

With this win, Apurvi won her second medal at the Commonwealth Games - she had earlier won the top honours in the 2014 edition in Glasgow. The 25-year old, after winning bronze in the Changwon World Cup in 2015 had won silver at the ISSF World Cup Finals in the same year.

Apurvi and Mehuli had previously finished first and fifth in the qualification round respectively. With a score of 423.2, Apurvi set a new qualification Games record. Mehuli, on the other hand, scored 413.7 as the top eight contenders entered the final.